Indexing Equity on Long Island
In November 2002, Nancy Rauch Douzinas, President of the Rauch Foundation (and today a Trustee of Teachers College), convened a group of Long Island’s civic, academic, labor and business leaders to address challenges facing the Long Island region. Out of that initial meeting came the Long Island Index, which each year provides data to measure those challenges, conduct comparisons with other suburban regions and adapt best practices.
While many Long Island schools are known for their excellence, the 2009 Index probed concerns that Long Island also is known for having schools that are among the most segregated in the nation. The Index that year focused on education and specifically on the mismatch in funding versus student needs. In districts where student needs are greatest, the Index reported, per-pupil spending is the least. Equally of concern, in districts where large sums are spent, academic achievement is no higher than in mid-range schools.
“If the Island is to rebuild its economic engine and provide the high-quality jobs we were once known for, we have to address the economic and structural divide among our school districts,” Douzinas said. “We cannot meet the needs of the future if we continue to allow today’s disparities to continue.”
During that same period, the Rauch Foundation supported the research of TC Professor of Sociology and Education
Amy Wells on the impact of school segregation on Long Island.
Douzinas, a former psychologist, joined TC’s Board in 2010 and through the Rauch Foundation recently gave TC two gifts. One supports a post-doctoral researcher in TC’s National Center for Children and Families. The other establishes the Ruth Treiber Rauch Scholarship Fund, in honor of Douzinas’s late mother, to provide scholarship support for students preparing to teach in high-needs public schools.